The turbulent Red Sox took off today in their 2016 campaign. How would the team respond to such a disappointing 2015? In the offseason, Dave Dombrowski went out and acquired David Price, Craig Kimbrel, and Carson Smith to boost their pitching staff. More of the Pablo saga would continue when he would lose his starting job to Travis Shaw. A player in the second year of a $95 million contract is a backup before opening day. Also, Hanley Ramirez would move to first base. The locker room contains an interesting group. An odd mix of overachieving players, frustrating big money guys, and a dash of hopeful youth.
The most challenging discussion entering the season remains to be whether or not John Farrell can manage the retooled Red Sox toward contention.
— Providence Journal (@projo) March 29, 2016
Consider the past year the manager has had. Many fans and analysts were calling for his job. Then in August, he announced been diagnosed with cancer. He would remain as manager, but went on leave. Torey Lovullo took over the reigns as his replacement and did an admirable job down the stretch. It was later announced both Farrell and Lovullo would join forces in 2016. Lovullo became one of the most expensive bench coaches in baseball, standing by to take over duties if Farrell can’t get the job done.
Red Sox skipper John Farrell tells reporters that Pablo Sandoval will not start at third base on Opening Day. pic.twitter.com/P2UDxaTxbS
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 31, 2016
With ownership and the general manager breathing down his neck, Farrell made some very interesting moves before opening day. Rusney Castillo and Pablo Sandoval would both not be on the starting roster. A combined $167 million dollars in contract money would be sitting on the bench or injured reserve.
In their place: Brock Holt and Travis Shaw. Holt had an amazing 2015 and surprised everyone with his consistent production in the field and with the bat. Regarded as a utility guy but keeps finding ways into the starting line-up. 6-foot 230-pound Travis Shaw plays at third base instead of Pablo. He has not played third since his college days at Kent State.
— MLB (@MLB) April 5, 2016
The cold weather and snow showers delayed opening day. Price would still show up locked in today and earn his money. Six innings, only five hits, two runs, and ten total strikeouts. His strikeout total was the highest for a Red Sox pitcher on opening day since 2009 (Josh Beckett).
The pitchers would form a fearsome foursome. Price would give way to Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, and Kimbrel in order. The Indians would only get five hits and the pitching was lights out.
John Farrell (or Dave Dombrowski?) elects for Shaw/Holt over Sandoval/Castillo in opener. Pair went 4-10, R, RBI. So far, so good. #RedSox
— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) April 5, 2016
Both Shaw and Holt would show up and deliver for the coach who inserted them in the lineup. They combined at the plate to bat 4-for-10 with one RBI. Both were also strong in the field. Mookie Betts looked like an all-star, Ortiz homered, and Ramirez had two hits.
Everything paid off for the manager today. The challenge will be maintaining momentum down the stretch, pressuring the team into bringing the same passion day in and day out. It’s great to start off in the right direction, but it’s also important to note the Red Sox started off last year’s train wreck with an 8-0 victory. The team still has many tests to come, but Farrell and the Sox have passed the first challenge of the year with flying colors.
(Orders World Series tickets) #redsox #1-0
— Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard) April 5, 2016